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Friday, January 24, 2014

Putting "Home" Back into Home Education

Many years ago we had only one car. Scott took the car to work, and I was left at home day after day with three little girls. Those were difficult days, and sometimes Scott would come home to find all four of us in tears. In looking back, however, I see that what I thought was a trial was in reality a gift from the Lord. It was the gift of time - time to read books, time to finger paint, time to make rainbows on the wall with a mirror and a pan of water in the sun.

More importantly, though, it was the gift of time to nurture relationships with one another and with the Lord without the distractions of the outside world. The girls are all teenagers today, and they are best friends. There are no rivalries among them. They don't fight over clothes or boys, nor do they fight with me. They are respectful, confident, talented, faithful. In every way they are a joy. They are exemplars of the "home" part of home education.

Home is where children learn the first principles of life. It is where they learn to fear God and to love one another. Children learn self-control, stewardship, sacrifice, loyalty, truthfulness, charity, and a host of other virtues through their day-to-day interactions with mom and dad. The "home" part of home education is the part for which there is no substitute. It is all about relationships and discipleship.

By the time our fourth child was born, we had another vehicle, and the kids had plenty of opportunities for social interaction and outside activities. We are not hermits, but the principle learned in those early years has remained with us. Our most rewarding and productive times are found at home. Home is where the kids' real education takes place. So we try not to overfill our schedule with outside activities that may be "good" but leave little time for those that are "better."

If I could share one thought with younger moms, it would be to redeem the time. I am thankful now for the days when I didn't have a car. I am thankful for the long days spent at home teaching little girls (and later a boy). Today, by God's grace, I am reaping the fruits of those labors, and someday you, too, will reap what you have sown. But you cannot reap a good harvest unless you spend time on the front end nurturing and watering your plants.

A friend sent me this appropriate quote by Charles Spurgeon:
We work and toil to serve our children by giving them knowledge, oftentimes at the expense of communion and relationship with them and Jesus.
I fear that too many homeschooling moms are trapped in an endless loop of activities: co-ops, dance classes, music lessons, sports, play dates, field trips, and on and on. There is nothing wrong with any of these activities, per se. The problem lies in the quantity. Too many outside activities mean too little time at home training our children. This lifestyle is not sustainable. Either mom will collapse from exhaustion and give up, or she will realize one day that her children have acquired a kind of knowledge that is not undergirded by Christian virtues. It is time, I think, to put the "home" back into home education.

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